NEW ALBANY — Jason Applegate believes in smart growth. He said Floyd County has a comprehensive plan, and that plan should be followed moving forward.

Shawn Carruthers would like to see high tech companies come to the county, and thinks the proposed innovation park in Georgetown is the perfect location for those types of businesses to flourish.

The two have been busy over the past six months spreading their message, and their hopes in moving the county forward over the next four years.

The voters will soon have the final say.

Applegate and Carruthers are running for the Floyd County Commissioners District 1 seat which is currently held by Republican Mark Seabrook, who decided not to seek re-election, instead focusing on a run for New Albany mayor next year.

The Democrat Applegate, 41, is a first-time candidate while Carruthers, 50, unsuccessfully ran for Floyd County Council at-large two years ago and is the current chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party. Applegate defeated LaMicra Martin by 1,247 votes in May's primary while Carruthers was unopposed.

Applegate has been attending commissioners’ meetings this year and said he has a grasp on which direction the county needs to move. He said it just takes leadership and smart planning.

“Let’s put the comprehensive plan in place for the next five to 10 years and use it as our guiding light. If it’s not going to be that then let’s figure out what it needs to be,” he said. “Let’s set up zoning laws, get planning on board and everybody get on the same page because right now we waste a lot of time.”

He said attending commissioners’ meetings has been educational, and he feels prepared should he be victorious Nov. 6.

“I’ve gotten to see how important decisions truly are that we are making. People’s lives are at stake,” he said.

Carruthers previously worked for Sen. Todd Young’s campaign, and after retiring, decided it was time to get involved. He said there are three reasons why he is running for commissioner.

“I think we should preserve the proceeds of Floyd Memorial Hospital so we can preserve that investment for our children and grandchildren,” Carruthers said. “I want to improve infrastructure in Floyd County and I want to see economic growth with high tech growth like the innovative park. I would like to see Floyd County become little Silicone Valley.”

While Applegate is running on a platform of smart growth, he would also like to get a youth council organized. The council would be made up of both high school and college students.

“I am a firm believer in the need to involve the youth and get their input about large projects,” Applegate said. “I would have loved to hear our youth’s thoughts of the jail remodel, our parks department, innovation park … . I think that is an important thing. It’s worked well across the country. It’s a great way to involve youth.”

Both said protecting proceeds from the sale of the hospital should be a priority. Carruthers said there needs to be growth, but growth that preserves the character of Floyd County.

“It’s [growth] been slow. Floyd County has been trying to find its way,” Carruthers said. “Clark County has River Ridge and Floyd County has been trying to find its place in the community. We have a unique opportunity to position ourselves to become our own community, a place for high tech economic growth.

“We are a growing community but need to [grow] in a way that is planned and not allow mass subdivisions to come in. We need to preserve the unique history of Floyd County. We want growth, slow, planned and implemented.”

In order to move forward, Applegate said the city and county have to form a better working relationship. He said he has talked to residents who see that as an issue. But that is not their only concern.

“Voters are always worried about taxes and what is going on with zoning and projects. From what I heard there can be some dialogue between the community and our government [leaders] on what zoning should look like,” he said. “The city and county’s relationship has to get better. It has to. That is with all municipalities. What does Georgetown want to look like, what does Greenville want to look like? As a commissioner you’ve got to put all those together and paint that picture, and make sure our picture of Floyd County looks really good.”

Carruthers said he is proud of the gains his party has made in recent elections, and has enjoyed getting out and talking to voters while wearing two hats — of a candidate and county chairman.

"I think the party is moving in the right direction. There are a lot more people who identify as a Republican," he said. "I am really proud of our candidates. We are getting some new faces and ideas and that is what we want. It doesn’t have to be dirty, they stand on their principles. We want to be part of the solution. We encourage people to get out and join the cause. I like to get people excited and get them involved."

Applegate said he has studied the job for the past year and is ready to start day one should he be elected.

"I think the job really fits my qualifications. I am a small business owner and you have to have business sense," he said. "It’s good to hear and talk to people. It’s very humbling. They are trusting that you can make a difference."

Chris Morris is an assistant editor at the News and Tribune. Contact him via email at chris.morris@newsandtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NAT_ChrisM.

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